A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
solutions, which, upon her dark mysterious scroll, again as usual,
will be the wisest. "Time's the king of men/' says wise Shakespeare.
"He's both theii parent, and he is their grave: And gives them
what he will, not what they*crave!" For there is a higher Power
which over-rules the ambitions and aspirations of men.
I possess my own prophetic anticipations of what is going to
happen in India, but in a world where national and racial prejudice
is king it is not always tactful to tell the truth. I do not wear, and I
do not want to wear, any political label. It is true that to be un-
labelled nowadays is deemed heresy and weakness, is to invite neg-
lect, but to don the prophet's mantle is full of danger. Both Britisher
and Indian would mistake and narrow down my attitude, and
certainly misunderstand my prediction. Therefore it is better to
bide my time and keep silent. Meanwhile I want to see East and
West appreciate each other more, and I try, in my humble way, to
be a harbinger of goodwill between both. Why should I waste my
time, with millions, in railing and ranting against the defects of
established society? Rather should I do a little constructive work.
There is another risk for me should I venture to make political
prophecies in this country, which seethes with Oriental intrigue and
suspicion. I am reminded of a little-known incident of the last war as
I think of this danger.
That much-admired, much-maligned and much-misunderstood
man, the late Colonel T. E. Lawrence, reached a critical period of
his campaign in Arabia, encountering stubborn obstacles that were
not to be overcome easily.
But by a flash of his famous genius he hit on the novel idea of
sending a request to London for professional stage magicians to be
seat out to travel among the tribes on the borders of the Red Sea
and Mediterranean. They were to be, if possible, of Arab birth
themselves, and familiar with the customs and beliefs of the tribes-
men. Their work was to pose as native wandering fakirs, to perform
magical feats and thus gain a reputation for their supernatural
powers. On the strength of this reputation they were to assume the
gift of prophecy and predict the sensational defeat of the Turks,
thus inducing the Arabs to throw in their lot with the British. Five
men were accordingly sent out to the Near East on this mission,
three being of Arab birth, one an Arabic-speaking Frenchman, and
one an Arabic-speaking Englishman specially trained in stage magic
for this part. They did good work for Lawrence and helped to
influence many Arabs, but the Frenchman and another member of _
the party were detected and paid the penalty of their lives.